Slaughter Says Military Detainment Legislation Designed to Shield Administration Officials from Prosecution Under War Crimes Act

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, spoke out against the Military Commissions Act, the military detainment legislation passed by Congress on September 29, 2006.

“This bill will dramatically increase the President’s right to detain men and women the world over, and to hold them indefinitely without charge,” she said in her remarks. “What is more, it will serve as a backdoor legalization of all but the most brutal of interrogation methods, taking our nation down a path we have chastised so many other countries for following.”

Rep. Slaughter argued that the legislation would undermine America’s moral authority in the world and endanger our soldiers, making the nation less safe.

“A world based on the rule of law is more safe, not less safe, than a world based on power alone,” she said. “A steadfast commitment to due process will both defend our most cherished freedoms and free the innocent from unwarranted punishment. It will protect our liberty and deprive our enemies of one of the main tools used to recruit new followers.”

She also stated that the War Crimes Act of 1997 made illegal many of the detention and interrogation methods employed by Administration and other government officials in recent years. A particular provision in the bill changes the War Crimes Act to legalize such practices, which Rep. Slaughter said was an attempt by officials to shield themselves from being prosecuted for war crimes.

“To call this strategy cynical and self-serving is an understatement,” she said. “When President Bush signs this bill, he will be signing away any responsibility for the potentially criminal policies he and those in his Administration have enacted during the past five years. When he signs this bill, he will be signing a pardon for himself and for all other architects of these disastrous, self-defeating, and immoral policies.”

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